Your Rainforest Mind

Support For The Excessively Curious, Creative, Smart & Sensitive


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Meet Your Muse

photo courtesy Simson Petrol, Unsplash

Muse: an elusive divine-inspired spirit guiding a human to produce great work.  Painters, poets, musicians, writers, film makers, scientists, stay-at-home moms. Creatives.

So, I’m wondering. Do I have a Muse? Do psychotherapists have Muses? Do bloggers?

Well, why not?

Maybe we all have Muses. After all, everyone needs inspiration. No matter what we’re doing. An inspiring spirit with creative ideas? What’s not to like?

Granted. Austen. Lennon. DaVinci. Probably had some darned powerful Muses. MegaMuses.

My Muse? A little less powerful. A little less Mega. OK. Maybe a lot less Mega. Muse-lite.

But still.

I’m here to tell you that even a psychotherapist blogger can be aMused.

Ahem.

For example: When I feel a sense of ease and pleasure writing a blog post and then a Yes when it’s finished. A message from my Muse: Send this out now. Sure, it’s not perfect. Send it anyway. And there it goes. Out to you.

Or, in a therapy session. When I feel particularly compassionate and larger than myself. My Muse shows me a winding path where Grace lives. I just need to breathe and love and stay on the path. In those moments, I am the Muse.

aMusement is pretty wonderful.

I have to admit, though, that my Muse doesn’t always appear. Like now, for instance. I’m sitting here with visions of impostor syndrome dancing in my head. My imposter syndrome says things like: Are you kidding? Do you realize that you are blogging about gifted people? Really, doll face? I can’t believe you’re getting away with that.

Yup.

But nevertheless, I’m persisting. Which is what we do much of the time, right? Trusting that a necessary part of the creative process includes doubt, resistance, bewilderment, plowing ahead, dark chocolate and expressions like doll face.

Not necessarily in that order.

And just in case you don’t believe me, I want you to listen to this TED talk by Elizabeth Gilbert. She explains her experience of Muse-ity quite well.

And if you want more, I’ve attached this humorous, poignant TED talk by writer Amy Tan.

My impostor syndrome suggested that I needed some back up.

But that’s OK. Because my Muse has arrived just in time.

So, here we go. Sending my love out to you. Yes!

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To my bloggEEs: What’s your experience with creativity and the Muse? How about impostor syndrome? You know that your comments make my blog sing, so we all love hearing from you. And thank you, as always.

This post is part of a blog hop coordinated lovingly by HoagiesGifted. See more posts on creativity by clicking on the image below.

 

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The Roots Of Unhealthy Perfectionism And What To Do About It

photo by Dylan Siebel, Unsplash

What if, from the time that you were 2 years old, you were told how smart you were. Over and over. Enthusiastically. By (well-meaning) parents and doting relatives. What if they praised you repeatedly for your many achievements and your perfect grades. What if you could tell that your parents needed you to be smart; that they felt better about themselves because you were so capable. What if you were so persuasive that they gave you too much control and not enough limits.

What if, when you arrived at elementary school, the work was too easy. You knew it before you were taught it. You learned things without really trying. What if you could get perfect scores on tests without studying and your scores were held up as an example for your fellow students. What if you were told by your teachers that you were the best student they’d ever had.

Do you think that you might grow up terrified of failure? Afraid to disappoint others? Hiding mistakes? Paralyzed by anxiety? Believing that if you aren’t a super achiever or the best at everything that you’re a failure? Thinking that all learning must be quick and easy or else it means that you’re not smart? You’re an impostor? A fake?

Do you think that you might grow up thinking that you should know everything before you learn it so that practicing or studying or effort feels boring or scary or unfamiliar? That you have to be mature and adult-like at all times? That you can’t tell anyone that you don’t know something because you have to know everything?

Well, my dears, this, yes this, may be the root of your unhealthy perfectionism. This may be the root of your (possibly unconscious) belief that you have to be super smart at all times or you’re worthless and unlovable. 

By the way, parents, relatives and educators aren’t conspiring against you. They don’t realize the effects of their reactions. Responses like these are very common. (In another post, I explain this more and suggest what parents can do.)

Understanding this root is the first step in changing its effects. 

So, now what?

This is not easy to change, especially if you’ve been living with these beliefs for a long time.

Know this: You are more than your grades, your achievements, your intellectual abilities. So much more. You are worthy of love, whether you write the perfect essay, win the competition, enter the elite school, get the high paying job, make the right decision, invent the iPhone or if you don’t achieve these things.

Somewhere deep inside yourself you know your worth. You know who you really are. So, here’s an idea:

Imagine that there’s a place in you that isn’t about achievement or accolades or winning or losing. This place is just about Love. Just Love. It’s radiant and joyful. Maybe it’s a very young child part of you. Maybe it’s an old wise part. Maybe it’s in your heart. Maybe it’s in your gut. But trust me. It’s there. Waiting for you to notice.

In a journal or in your mind, write to or picture this part of yourself. Take your time. You may be skeptical. You may need to meditate first or sit by your favorite tree. Write a letter to this Radiance. Ask it to show itself to you. Ask it for help. Then write or hear its response. It might come quickly or you might need to wait for a while. Start a relationship.

I’m betting that finding the Love will soften you up. It’ll remind you of what’s really true.

And of who you really are.

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To my bloggEEs: Do you struggle with unhealthy perfectionism? Tell us about it. What have you done that helps? We all appreciate hearing from you.

Note: There is a healthy form of perfectionism. You were born with it. I don’t know any rainforest minds who don’t have it. It’s your innate deep need for beauty, balance, harmony, precision and justice. It can create challenges for you but it’s not something you need to heal. I write about it here.

Another note: This will be extra hard or more complicated if you had chainsaw parents. If so, you might need therapy, too.

A final note: If you need more assistance, here’s a lovely book by Christina Baldwin.

A final final note: Thank you to the clients who inspired this post.


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If I’m So Smart, Why Can’t I Make A Decision?

Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

You would think that a smart person would find decision-making easy. But, no. It’s often quite the opposite. 

There are gazillions of reasons for this. Well, maybe not gazillions. But lots. Here are just a few:

You want to make the right decision but you can think of arguments for all sides of the issue.

You see how everything is related to everything else.

You’re not sure which choice is the most in line with your ethical stance. And ethics matter.

You want to choose the right thing but then you have to let go of all the other things you didn’t choose. And that’s painful.

You’re concerned about how your decisions will affect others. Not just family members. Everyone.

You’re easily overwhelmed by the number of options.

You feel pressure to do the right thing because that’s what everyone expects and you can’t disappoint them.

From the time you were a toddler, you were tuning in to what others needed and trying to please them. You’re still trying to please them.

You have a pile of books by your bed but you can’t decide which one to read first because you want to know everything– NOW.

You grew up in a chainsaw family so it was life-threatening or humiliating to make a wrong choice.

You care deeply about social justice so you want to be fair to everyone.

You are a multipotentialite.

You like keeping things open-ended because there’s always new information on the way.

You believe that you’re a complete failure if you make a wrong decision.

You’re terrified of screwing up your children.

So, what can you do?

You’ll find some ideas in this earlier post. The emphasis there is on developing and trusting your intuition. Writing dialogues with parts of yourself. Meditating. Tai Chi. Time in nature. Building a spiritual practice. (Be sure to read the comments.)

Those ideas work well for big decisions. What about the every day choices?

This is tricky. But I’ve made a list of mantras that you can say to yourself when you need them. Keep the list handy. It helps to breathe, too. When faced with a “simple” choice or decision, say to yourself one or more of these:

~ No one will die.

~ Mistakes will make me more likable.

~ I can change my mind at any time.

~ Perfection is over-rated.

~ Maybe I was never prom queen/king, but I’m still an extremely cool person.

~ My kids will grow up healthier if I model resilience.

~ I can comfort the child part of me who is the one who is freaking out. The adult part of me knows what to do.

~ It’s all a grand experiment.

~ I am a dynamic work of art. In process.

~ No one else will even notice.

~ I’m more critical of myself than anyone I know.

~ My memoir will be much more fascinating if I make some ridiculous decisions.

And, if all else fails, remember the wisdom of Donald Antrim:

“The simple question “What color do you want to paint that upstairs room?” might, if we follow things to their logical conclusions, be stated, “How do I live, knowing that I will one day die and leave you?”

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To my bloggEEs: A person on a Facebook site about giftedness said that she thinks that the comments on this blog are the best comments on the whole internet! I have to agree. Keep ’em coming. And thank you. What decisions are hard for you? What helps you make them?

(Oh, and you may have noticed that I have some new photos. If you want to see my latest look, go to my About page! You can even see my over-excitable, effervescent hair in its free state.)

 


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Dumb Down No More

Me, in my younger days, seeking my tree-ness

You may have been told that you ought to keep quiet about your intelligence and your achievements. You may have been told that others will feel bad if you express enthusiasm for something that you know. You may have been called a show-off or a know-it-all.

Well, it’s time to stop dumbing yourself down. You can practice here.

Since this is my blog, I get to go first.

This month, June 2017,  is the one year anniversary of the birth of my book.

Here are a couple of excerpts from the introduction:

“As you better understand the workings of your rainforest mind, you can find greater purpose, meaning, and direction. With a clearer sense of your true self, you can live like the thriving rain forest–in balance, peace, grace, and beauty, and in support of all beings on the planet.” 

“…you will meet excessively curious, idealistic, sensitive, highly intelligent humans–individuals with rainforest minds. You will meet Billy, an adolescent with extraordinary empathy for all beings and a deep desire for precision, ethics, and excellence…Gina, a twenty-something grad student whose brain ran faster, wider, and deeper than many of her university professors. She overwhelmed and alienated her less effervescent peers… Steven [who] longed to find ways to heal his family’s legacy [of abuse] and access the creative and spiritual spark within his heart…”

A review on Amazon:
“I heard Paula Prober talk 20 years ago when my daughter was in the TAG program. I was so impressed that I have been using some of her handouts ever since in my counseling practice. I was delighted when one of my clients came in with her book. I bought copies to lend out and copies for my grown kids. It is inspiring and full of practical ideas for talented and gifted people who have trouble fitting in the success box.”

And for those of you who want to know some of my secrets:

I wrote the article below for an online magazine that you might enjoy. The magazine is called Rebelle Society and describes itself this way: “… a virtual country that gives a home and a voice to the creatively maladjusted rebels with a cause, the nonconformists, dreamers, the expressive troublemakers trying to rise above their circumstances and lead an extraordinary life by creating their lives and inspiring the world with their passion.” Might this sound like a place for you to visit, oh rainforest-minded ones?

I know I don’t share many details about myself here on my blog. So check this out for a peek into me:  Single, Childfree, Petless and Loved.

 

Now it’s your turn:

In the comments, let us know about your achievements, your blogs, articles you recommend, books that you love, your adorable children… Tell us something that you appreciate about you. Feel free to provide links. (Note: I realize that it’s important to select carefully the people with whom you share your intellect, your accomplishments, your deepest self. Some people just won’t be able to handle your radiance, so you’ll need to be discriminating. But here? On this blog? Go for it!)

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To my bloggEEs: You can do it. Share something about you. We want to know. Go ahead. We’re listening. (And I welcome comments about my book and my Rebelle Society article, too!)


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Why You Still Don’t Believe That You’re Gifted

photo by Maarten van den Heuvel, Unsplash

photo by Maarten van den Heuvel, Unsplash

People tell you that you’re super smart. They’re baffled by how much you know and how you know it. You can ace a test without studying. You can talk with just about anyone about just about anything. You’re always thinking, analyzing, imagining and empathizing.

But you’re sure that you’re not gifted.

How is that possible?

Here are some ideas:

• You know how much you don’t know.

• You think you’re normal. Doesn’t everyone obsess about Dr. Who and David Attenborough’s Planet Earth documentaries?

• Too many people have told you “Don’t get a swelled head,Who do you think you are,” “You think you’re so smart,” or “Nobody likes a know-it-all.”

• You value justice and equality. If someone is gifted, someone is not gifted. It can imply that you’re better than someone else.

• Your Aunt Mindy was gifted and she didn’t turn out too well.

• You haven’t sent rockets into space or designed something “insanely great.”

• You’re good at faking it. If people knew the real you, it would be obvious that you’re average.

• You’ve been told over and over that you can’t possibly know as much as you know. You’re starting to believe it.

• When you were in school, it was embarrassing and lonely to be the smart kid.

• You’d have to live up to it and the PRESSURE would be overwhelming and then everyone would be disappointed in you and the PRESSURE would be even more overwhelming. So overwhelming, then, that you’d have to disappear into a witness protection program and acquire a new identity and not even Sherlock could find you.

• You fear rejection from family and friends. You want to belong, to fit in, to be normal.

• You have so many interests in so many diverse areas that you flit from topic/job to topic/job instead of mastering only one topic/job thoroughly and completely for your entire lifetime. In fact mastering ONLY ONE topic/job thoroughly and completely for your entire lifetime is totally terrifying.

• If you were gifted, you wouldn’t be so anxious, so depressed, so not rich or so bad at chess.

Why does it matter? Why do you need to realize that you are, in fact, gifted?

I’m glad you asked. It’s pretty simple. If you accept and embrace your giftedness (your rainforest mind), you’ll be better able to find your authentic voice and contribute in your uniquely sensitive, intense and complicated way to making a better world. Your Aunt Mindy will thank you! (so will your kids, your friends, your partner, your pets, your colleagues, your neighbors, your trees, your rivers, your planet….) 

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To my bloggEEs: Tell us, why it is that you still don’t believe that you’re gifted. Or, if you do believe it, tell us how that happened. Thank you for sharing. I so appreciate that you’re here!


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If I’m So Smart, Why Do I Feel Like A Failure?

photo courtesy of Vanessa Bumbeers, Unsplash, CC

photo courtesy of Vanessa Bumbeers, Unsplash, CC

Was this you? You were told repeatedly that you were so smart; that you had a high IQ. You were the top student. Your parents and teachers praised you often for your abilities and achievements. School was easy so you could get high grades without studying. You won awards. Teachers said that you were gifted. Your parents said that you’d do great things when you reached adulthood; That you could do anything you wanted. Expectations were high. 

And so was the pressure. But you didn’t realize it at the time. Until you got to college. Suddenly, you were surrounded by smart kids. You were no longer the star. Not only that. Some of your classes were hard; studying was required. Studying? What’s that? You got your first “C.” You loved psychology and philosophy but you’d never faced a workload like this. No one else seemed to be having trouble. You started procrastinating, as usual, but last minute finishes didn’t work anymore. It was confusing and overwhelming. Your identity was crumbling; you became anxious and depressed.

In your mind, it became clear that you’d been faking your smarts all of these years. You weren’t gifted. Never had been. You’d gotten by on your charm. Now charm wasn’t enough. You were a failure. Every little mistake, every question you couldn’t answer. Failure.

Is this you? Or someone you know?

Let me give you a hug and an explanation.

Kids who are gifted are often told, repeatedly, how smart they are, by well-meaning adults. High grades and other achievements may be praised excessively. This can lead children to believe that they’re loved because they’re “so smart.” Their identity becomes dependent, then, on their capacity to continue to show their advanced abilities and on the praise and attention they receive.

This can lead to unhealthy perfectionism: fear of failure, avoidance of activities that don’t guarantee success, impostor syndrome and procrastination. It can lead to anxiety and depression. Being smart becomes a static thing. You either are or your aren’t. And because you’re used to learning many things quickly, you think that’s the way all learning should be. If you don’t get it fast, well, it just proves that you’re not gifted. Not gifted? Not lovable.

What can you do?

Understand that your worth as a human isn’t due to your accomplishments. Your worth is about who you are, not what you do. It will take time to really believe this.

Make a list of your values. What do you appreciate about others? Compassion? Generosity? Sense of humor? Can you admire these values in yourself?

Imagine your life as a work in progress or as a form of artistic expression. Focus on the journey or the process instead of the product or the outcome.

If you’re in school, design a plan for studying and completing assignments. Break projects down into smaller steps. Look for resources online about dealing with procrastination, perfectionism, expectations, and fear of failure.

Learn about Dweck’s more recent work on mindsets. Even if giftedness is the way your brain is wired, that doesn’t mean it’s an all or nothing phenomenon. You can still have strengths and weaknesses. You can make mistakes and still be a lovely human. You can have high standards and not be perfect.

Make a list of your thoughts and beliefs about your “failures.” Are they rational? Replace your irrational beliefs with what’s actually true. If you’re really struggling, try this book. The book includes ways to self-soothe and calm your anxiety.

Read biographies of eminent people and make note of their struggles, mistakes and failures. Elon Musk and Steve Jobs failed multiple times.

If you’re a parent, avoid praise. It’s often meaningless. Instead, encourage your children by giving specific feedback and asking questions. “I noticed how kind you were to that boy.” “I’m enjoying the details about the characters in your story.” “How was it for you when your team worked so well together?”

If you’re a parent, encourage your child to engage in activities where they need to struggle. They will learn how to deal with mistakes, failures and set backs and will form a stronger sense of self.

And finally, hold on to your dreams!  Even if you feel discouraged and anxious some of the time, or a lot of the time, there is love in you. There is beauty in you. You can do this.

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To my bloggEEs: Thank you to the reader who inspired this post. Share your thoughts, feelings, questions and dreams here, please. We all benefit from your experiences!


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Goodbye To Your Impostor Syndrome — Hello To Your Authentic Self

photo courtesy Madeline Tallman, Unsplash, CC

photo courtesy Madeline Tallman, Unsplash, CC

If you really were an impostor, you wouldn’t be worrying that you’re an impostor.

Think about it. There are people we all know who do not worry about this. They firmly believe that they have all of the answers and that they are very smart. They do not worry that they are impostors. Kind of like a narcissist doesn’t worry that he’s a narcissist because he’s a narcissist.

You, on the other hand, well, you worry. You have the depth, sensitivity and intelligence to know that there are no easy answers or quick solutions. Except, maybe, if you’re asking: Should I eat that hot fudge sundae now or later?

But you don’t trust that your depth, sensitivity and intelligence is enough. You don’t trust that it means that you’re gifted. You imagine that some day the truth will come out and you’ll be exposed as the fraud that you truly are.

And there are good reasons for this. You can find them here. It’s helpful to know the reasons.

But. What if, just for today, you decided that you couldn’t waste any more time worrying when the truth will come out. Worrying when you’ll be exposed. Worrying when you will fail spectacularly.

You have things to do.

What might that be like? Saying goodbye to your impostor syndrome.

Maybe you’d have more time to create. Maybe you’d finally start that project that’s been calling your name for years. Maybe your children would need less therapy when they got older. Maybe it would bring you closer to your authentic Self and your mission here on earth.

(Note: Do not panic about the “mission” thing. No pressure. Well, maybe a little pressure. But your mission doesn’t need to be: end world hunger. Although, it can be. Your purpose may be to raise compassionate, sensitive, empathetic humans and/or to end the legacy of abuse in your family line. Just imagine if everyone on earth did that. Just imagine.)

I know saying goodbye will not be easy. The impostor syndrome is tangled and thorny. I’m just asking you to start the process. Feel into it. Repeat after me: I have a rainforest mind. In my own particular uniquely magnificent way, I am gifted. If I were really an impostor, I wouldn’t be worrying that I’m an impostor.

Now, let’s go eat that sundae.

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To my bloggEEs: What if you play with this idea and describe or draw an image of yourself without your impostor syndrome. What do you look like? How do you feel? Is it scary? Lonely? Freeing? Exciting? If you have a journal, write about it. Tell us in the comments what you’ve discovered. And thank you, as always, for your courage.

This post is part of a blog hop from Hoagiesgifted.org. Click on the image to find more posts on the topic of gifted children and adults, written by parents and professionals.13879215_10208710258486417_2791415865854519067_n